If I had been asked to write an introductory paper on life on the moon a decade or two ago, I would probably have penned some optimistic science-fiction piece about life on a bold new frontier, describing the hard but rewarding toil of carving out a new existence for humanity in a completely new environment.
Now, with the home planet gone, and this small battered satellite our only remaining chance for survival, I have a slightly different perspective.
Life on Luna wants to kill you.
Not all of it — there are some humans that don’t care enough about you to want you dead — but about 90% of the living organic beings on this rock either want to eat you, or to see just how many parts they can subdivide you into before you stop twitching.
It’s a bit of a change from the lifeless rock we landed on all those years ago.
Except it wasn’t really lifeless, was it?
Whatever the end goal of the ancient Primori race was, part of it seemed to involve covering every square kilometer of the moon with as many underground biological research facilities as possible, and filling them with strange and vicious creatures.
It really wasn’t fair on the first explorers, as they finally managed to break their way into the ancient structures.
They were probably hoping to discover some wonderful new technologies like fusion power, faster-than-light travel, or even just a damned hoverboard.
But no, it was face eating-monsters all the way.
After that nasty surprise, excavations began to proceed with a lot more caution, with facilities being quarantined and cleared before any researchers were allowed access.
The idea was to uncover and secure each in turn without risking unleashing the contents on the surface, and for a long time, this worked.
I remember my days as a breacher. The drills would bore through Primori walls thick enough to resist the blasts of nearby meteorite strikes. Once through, they’d send in the combat bots, and then we’d follow, checking each room and picking off anything the robots missed.
We quickly figured out that they were dealing with bioresearch facilities. The aliens inside were not smart, and it was clear from the internal layouts that they were designed to contain and sustain the aliens as experimental test subjects.
Modifications had been made to the creatures that sought to physically enhance their bodies and their lifespans, and most seemed to be grown based on variations of the same basic template or genetic code.
Others were completely different, almost as if they were clones or imitations of creatures seen on distant worlds.
The creatures did not seem to be happy being cooped up in there, and they were even less thrilled to have humans trespassing in their homes, but they would probably all have remained controlled and contained, had it not been for the destruction of our home, Hyperia, and the subsequent devastation of the moon’s surface.
The planet’s destruction sent huge chunks of the crust hurtling towards the moon, utterly obliterating all settlements and bases on the near side, while lower velocity rocks and shattered orbital debris rained down on the far side.
Nothing messes with containment measures quite like having a mountain land on them, and once the rubble had cooled, creatures of all types began to make their way out onto the lunar surface…
Now, having your home planet blow up and rain down around your ears is generally understood not to be a fun experience. But if you add a bunch of angry aliens roaming free around your landscape, then what you have is a recipe for a really bad time.
Which is why I’m now going to explain how things managed to get even worse than that.
You see, between the totally obliterated areas on the near side of the moon and the sheltered, but battered far side, there was an area in which the damage was just great enough to expose and crack open some of the facilities, but not enough to totally destroy them or render them completely inoperative.
Some of these places ended up going really weird.
In what is now known as the Gore sector, something really fried the programming of the growing vats, and they just began to churn out creatures with completely scrambled templates. Body parts in the wrong places, or ten arms instead of two.
Most of these creatures, then and now, don’t even survive ten seconds outside the vat, but those that do are both dangerously insane and insanely dangerous.
The worst are the ones with enough predatory instinct to devour the weaker specimens. They’re not picky, and won’t bother to check that you’ve stopped fighting before they swallow you.
In the sand sector, a huge space station came crashing down directly on top of a facility, partly destroying it. Not long after, strange metal-plated creatures began crawling out, infesting the area.
A technician I know claims that the nanite robots that kept the facility operational malfunctioned and began “repairing” perceived damage to creatures, replacing parts that they consider lost or damaged with metal elements salvaged from the wreck.
I don’t know if those creatures can feel pain, but if you had your claws, your teeth, your scales — every bit of you that gets worn or broken over time — surgically replaced with metal imitations, well, you’d probably be a bit cranky too.
Most of the creatures just want to be left alone to hide from the heat in that area, but some will actively hunt you, so be careful.
Now compared to them, the mold region is almost pretty, and it is probably the closest thing this moon has to a viable ecosystem. The cataclysm must have cracked open some underground seed vaults or something, because before we’d even fully recovered from the shock, that area was covered with fungi.
Don’t let that fool you, though, it’s an ecosystem that doesn’t have space for humans in it. Some of the stuff is edible, but I personally don’t bother risking it. Everything in that place is either aggressive, poisonous, sharp or all three at once.
It’s a tough place to work in, because it almost never lets up, and it’ll wear you down until you run out of breath, out of ammo and out of luck. Then it’ll eat you.
Lastly you have the reactor zone, which some people call the “ice” region. Wrap up well if you’re going there, because a lump of earth put a big crack in the cooling system of what we think is the main Primori power reactor.
It’s been pumping out freezing coolant all over the area ever since, dropping the average temperature like a rock.
The local wildlife doesn’t seem to mind the cold too much though, possibly because they’re mostly not carbon based like most of the rest, probably more collected specimens from other planets.
Some of them feed on the different crystals that condense from the leaking coolant, while others are ambush predators that like to keep warm near energy hotspots. Bear that in mind before you get too cozy somewhere.
Pretty much everything on this rock has tried to kill me at some point in my life. I attribute their failure to do so to the fact that I’ve refused to underestimate the dangers I’ve faced and that I’ve always kept my equipment in good working order.
Life on the moon wants to kill you, and it probably will in the end. But you get to decide how hard a job it’ll have doing so. Good luck, settler.
Short article written for the Lunar Gazette by Ralph McNab, shortly before the latter’s death from acute food poisoning.